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Education Notebook: Houston joins amicus brief against charter school law

The Houston County Board of Education will join an amicus brief to be filed before the Georgia Supreme Court by the Georgia School Boards Association and the Georgia School Superintendents Association about local control of charter schools in the state.

The amicus brief will be filed in opposition to a law that allows the Georgia Charter School Commission to form a charter school that receives funds through a portion of local tax revenue, but are not subject to control of local systems, according to the system’s resolution on the matter approved Tuesday.

Board members Skip Dawkins and Toby Hill argued that more charter schools would divert funding and resources from public schools and establish unequal educational facilities for students across the state. Dawkins also said many of the charter schools are virtual schools that provide courses online.

Board member Marianne Melnick said she supports charter schools, as long as they are under the control of local boards of education. She gave the example of the Houston County Career Academy, which is a partnership with the school system, Middle Georgia Technical College and the community at large.

“That’s how it should be done, not something segregated from the rest of the schools in the community,” Melnick said.

No local tax funds will be used toward the amicus brief, board Chairman Tom Walmer said.

Graduation logo design winner named

The Bibb County school system and the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce recently recognized the design winner of the “Operation Graduation” pin logo for the class of 2014.

Each year a contest is held for a new design logo for “Operation Graduation” a campaign to empower ninth-graders to graduate on time and give all freshmen an engraved pin with their graduation year.

This year’s pin design winner was Tyisha Wells from Southwest High School. She won $75. Second- and third-place winners were Chauncey Thomas from Northeast High School, who won $50, and Nicholas Owens from Southwest High School, who received $25.

“We are encouraging each ninth-grader to wear their pin as a reminder of their commitment to stay in school and graduate on time,” said Doris Christopher, chair of the chamber’s education committee. “This is an especially exciting year as (this year’s) senior class was the first class to receive their pins.”

Macon charter school seeking board members

The Macon Academy of Excellence is seeking candidates to volunteer on the coming charter school’s governing board, which will function like a school board to create policies.

The Bibb County school board granted a petition in July for the Macon Academy of Excellence to open next fall at the Progressive Christian Academy campus in the Pleasant Hill neighborhood.

Those interested should submit a letter of interest and résumé to Macon Academy of Excellence, ATTN: Nominating Committee, 2189 Third Ave, Macon, GA 31204, by midnight Oct. 15. Materials can also be e-mailed to maconacademyofexcellence@gmail.com or faxed to (678) 623-8138.

Those interested must have an impeccable history of community service, a desire to improve the quality of public education for all children in Bibb County, be well organized; be extremely committed to maintaining high standards as a governing board member; and possess proven business acumen.

The school will enroll children on a first-come, first-served basis, in grades kindergarten through fifth.

School Improvement Grant specialist named

Sharon Campbell was hired as the Bibb County school system’s new School Improvement Grant specialist. She will work with the four SIG schools that are receiving up to $12 million over three years to boost student achievement.

The four schools are Rutland, Northeast and Southwest high schools and Hutchings Career Center.

Campbell is currently a performance learning coach at Northeast. Her new position is funded through the federal grant.

Study shows teachers not jumping ship after five years

The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement recently released teacher attrition trends of Georgia’s public school teachers. The GOSA commissioned Ben Scafidi, an associate professor of Economics at Georgia College & State University, to examine teacher retention using Georgia public school employment data from 1998-2009.

The study assessed the extent of new teachers leaving public education altogether, those who leave but later return, or who move into other professional public education roles.

Some reports of teacher attrition suggest educators who teach one year but not the next as having left the profession entirely, which this study found not to be the case.

“This analysis is important because its findings clearly refute the long-held notion that half of Georgia’s teachers leave the profession within five years,” said Executive Director Kathleen Mathers. “Instead, by appropriately broadening the definition of retention, we’ve learned that nearly 75 percent of Georgia’s new teachers remain in public education after five years.”

The analysis, which used Georgia employment data, suggests that Georgia teachers are staying in schools longer and in greater numbers than many people commonly assume, said Eric Wearne, GOSA’s deputy director.

The entire report can be found at www.gaosa.org.

Houston BOE approves several changes to its policies

The Houston County Board of Education approved changes to several of its policies Tuesday, and has another on the table for consideration.

The board unanimously approved changes to a policy related to procedure for visitors who wish to speak at board work sessions, requiring 24 hours notice, as well as indicating that participation forms are available from the system’s website.

It also approved changes to its policy regarding acceptable use of information technology to update staff titles and to restrict movement of certain types of technological equipment. The approval of those changes was followed by a deletion of another policy that addressed the same topic.

Currently, a policy addressing employee computer and Internet use is under a 30-day consideration period by the board.

Students can enter contest to win college savings

September is national college savings month.

The Path2College 529 Plan in Georgia, which allows parents to squirrel away money for their children’s college tuition, is sponsoring a coloring sweepstakes for students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

The winner will receive $1,529 toward a Path2College 529 Plan account, and the winner’s school will receive $1,000.

To enter, students can color a Hootie the Wise Old Owl sheet and answer the question, “When I graduate, I’m going to be a ____.” Entries must be submitted by a parent and post-marked by Sept. 30.

One random winner will be drawn in October. Parents can print the coloring entry form at www.path2college529.com.

The Path2College 529 Plan helps families prepare for the future costs of college tuition with no sign-up, maintenance or third-party sales fees. An account can be opened online with as little as $25.

The plan offers seven investment options and participants can arrange for automatic contributions to their accounts to be drawn directly from a bank account or payroll deduction with participating employers.

Telegraph staff writer Julie Hubbard and Andrea Castillo contributed to this report.

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